140 W 4th St / New York, NY
Asian/Soul Food fusion (vegetarian, mostly vegan)
Seriously… “Asian/Soul Food Fusion?” But let me tell you: it works.
Red Bamboo was started by the son of the owner of Vegetarian Paradise just down the block (a restaurant that is the favorite of reggae singer Tony Rebel when he’s in town). Their menu is heavy on the mock meat, including many variations of mock fish dishes ranging from Cajun Fried Shrimp to Maryland Fried Scallops.
Before heading to Red Bamboo, I stopped by Moo Shoes, where I was given a very explicit recommendation: “Have the chicken parmesan. And, trust me, don’t skip dessert.”
The chicken parmesan lunch platter ($7.95) gives you a number of appetizer options. I went with the Jerk Spiced Seitan on a skewer. Very, very tasty with just enough spice to deliver a kick but avoid the runny-nose syndrome I get with ultra-spicy foods. The main course, though, was the piece de resistance.
Holy freaking crap.
Allow me to reiterate, slightly louder: HOLY FREAKING CRAP.
Perhaps one of the most “real” tasting mock meat dishes I’ve ever had, this chicken had the consistency and flavor of the best white meat chicken I’d ever eaten. The sauce was delicious and the parmesan and mozzarella cheeses (both vegan, though you can also get them in dairy and soy-cheese-with-casein versions… but trust me, you don’t need to) were melty and flavorful. I literally wimpered as I took the first bite. It was that good.
I had a cranberry-orange juice to drink, which was fine.
After I finished the main part of my meal, I was ready for dessert. After all, I was told not to skip it by the MooShoes girl. I had to order it, right? Unfortunately, their cakes had not yet arrived for the day, so I was stuck with the soy ice cream. But, it was really good soy ice cream. I had the mint chocolate chip—which was actually green!—and definitely hit the spot. The “one scoop” serving was actually closer to three scoops.
As I finished off my ice cream, the cakes were delivered. I started drooling even though my stomach was definitely full. So, I ordered a piece of Oreo Cheesecake (vegan, of course) to go and split it the following night with Huyen. Ain’t I nice?
The cheesecake was damn fine and right up there with the one I had from the Chicago Diner. Perfection.
As if you couldn’t guess, I highly recommend Red Bamboo. Next visit to New York, I’m going to go back and try out some of their fake fish. And another dessert, of course.